While the crop of young talent waiting to make their mark in the major leagues is not what it was just two year ago, 2017 still has a number of players who should make an impact. I’ve broken the list down into players that will likely start the season off in the majors, players who will be called up mid-season, and then players that will see playing time at some point but I just can’t tell you when.
I hope the list helps you in drafting your re-draft leagues and as always, I look forward to your feedback.
Andrew Benintendi (BOS, OF) – 500 AB, .280 BA, 17 HR, 22 SB and 90 Runs
Benintendi just started to scratch the surface last year on the impact he can have in the major leagues. He’s hit at every level and I believe he’ll hit right out of the gate this year. There is 20 plus home run potential in the bat and while I think he’ll show some pop this year, it might be 2018-19 before we see his full breakout.
Lucas Giolito (CHW, RHP) – 25 GS, 3.60 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10 Wins, and 160 Strikeouts
While moving to the American League usually hurts pitchers, in Lucas Giolito case, it actually will help him as he will be under the watchful eye of White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. The stuff remains elite and with improved command, the ceiling is still a top-of-the-rotation arm.
Mitch Haniger (SEA, OF) – 500 AB, .260 BA, 25 HR, 8 SB, and 90 RBI
The sneaky player in the Jean Segura for Taijuan Walker trade over the winter was Mitch Haniger. He’ll have the full-time gig out of the gate and should hit enough to get to his plus power. He’s been a late bloomer and that rose should continue to blossom during 2017.
Dan Vogelbach (SEA, 1B) – 450 AB, .280 BA, 18 HR, 75 RBI
After toiling in the Cubs organization for years with no chance to see the major leagues, Dan Vogelbach was traded to Seattle and will get his chance to contribute in 2017. He can really hit with plus power and while he’s a poor defender, I think the Mariners will find a place for his bat in the lineup.
Jharel Cotton (OAK, RHP) – 25 GS, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9 Wins, and 145 Strikeouts
Jharel Cotton was my deep sleeper in last year’s rookie write-up and once promoted, flashed the potential I thought he had. He’s developed a cutter to go along with his plus change-up and at least for now, will be hard to hit. He could be really good this year with a chance to challenge Benintendi for rookie of the year.
Could show flashes
Reynaldo Lopez (CHW, RHP) – 15 GS, 3.90 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7 Wins, and 100 strikeouts
Lopez has a tremendous arm but his size and lack of incorporating his lower half has always bothered me. If Don Cooper can fix the delivery, Lopez upside becomes Marcus Stroman. If he can’t, he’s likely a bullpen arm; but, a potential dominate closer.
Jose De Leon (TB, RHP) – 15 GS, 3.75 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5 Wins, and 80 strikeouts
De Leon will be a very good pitcher but lacks the stuff to be a true top-of-the-rotation arm. Unless he signs a team-friendly deal, he’ll start the year in the minor leagues with a likely mid-June call-up. The upside is a solid mid-rotation starter; not bad for a 24th round pick.
Aaron Judge (NYY, OF) – 400 AB, .235 BA, 18 HR, and 55 RBIs
Judge’s power is undeniable, but his swing-and-miss could provide a significant stumbling block as he begins his major league career. It will come down to his ability to adjust and close up the holes that his long swing presents. For the record, I’m worried.
Yoan Moncada (CHW, 3B) – 300 AB, .240 BA, 7 HR, 15 SB, and 40 Runs
Nobody has more upside in the minor leagues than Yoan Moncada. The physical tools are impressive but so is his ability to strikeout. Currently, there are a lot of holes in his swing, but once he learns to adjust to pitches inside, he could become a force. That said, there is a non-zero chance he hits his ceiling. But if he does…
Francis Martes (Hou, RHP) – 12 GS, 4.25 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 5 Wins, and 80 strikeouts
The Astros love Francis Martes and have refused to move him in the quest for acquiring a big-time starting pitcher. He’s a big boy with big boy stuff but control issues will likely plague him early in his career. I don’t see a major contribution from him in 2017, but 2018 and 2019 could be a different story.
Brad Zimmer (CLE, OF) – 250 AB, .250 BA, 10 HR, and 10 SB
Zimmer has very fantasy friendly tools but his inability to hit lefties has become a problem. His stock has dropped and that could present an interesting buying opportunity for fantasy owners. The upside is 20/20 and while I don’t think he comes close to that this year, I will continue to monitor.
May need more time, but…
Tyler O’Neill (SEA, OF)
I came away very impressed with O’Neill after seeing him in the AFL last fall. There is big time power and he could see platoon time in the outfield if Jarrod Dyson proves he can’t he left-handers or if Mitch Haniger falters.
Franklin Barreto (OAK, SS/2B)
I’ve long been a fan of Franklin Barreto and while he’s primarily played shortstop in his career, he could slide over to second and see playing time in Oakland in the second half. He has a nice combination of power and speed but as he fills out, that 20/20 potential could turn into 25/10 very quickly.
Zack Burdi (CHW, RP)
If you believe, like I do that David Robertson will not see September in Chicago, then Zack Burdi is a guy to monitor. The White Sox have moved him quickly through their system and he should start the year in Charlotte. He’s good, really good and could see save opportunities in the second half.
Joe Jimenez (DET, RP)
Frankie Rodriguez is the closer in Detroit, but you see older closers get moved all the time in the second half. If that happens, Joe Jimenez could get a shot to close games. He’s a name to clearly monitor, particularly if the Tigers get off to a slow start.
Derek Fisher (HOU, OF)
Fisher is really good, but yet he gets no love. I think he has a chance to be a significant force, particularly in fantasy baseball with his combination of speed and power. I think he finally gets a chance this year and the rest as they say…will be history.
Hunter Dozier (KC, 3B)
Hunter Dozier doesn’t have the highest upside on this list but makes hard contact with a chance to hit 20 home runs annually. If the Royals decide to start selling off pieces, he could get a look in the second half with a chance to pop a few home runs in the process.